Pope Francis dismisses former US cardinal McCarrick over sex abuse

Posted at 6:42 AM, Feb 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-16 08:42:30-05

VATICAN CITY – The fate of the former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is sealed.

Vatican officials announced Saturday that McCarrick, who now lives in a friary in Kansas after he lost his title of cardinal last year, can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments, wear clerical vestments or be addressed by any religious title after being dismissed from the priesthood following a church inquiry.

McCarrick is the highest profile Roman Catholic figure to be defrocked in modern times.

He was once a prince of the church and a friend of presidents. The former Washington D.C. Cardinal enjoyed a spectacular career at the heart of power- in Washington and in Rome.

When the U.S. Cardinals were summoned to the Vatican by John Paul II in 2002 at the start of the sex abuse scandal, Cardinal McCarrick was the reassuring face of that crisis. He advocated zero-tolerance for abusers even as there were unrevealed allegations against him.

McCarrick was created a Cardinal in 2001 by John Paul II.

Around that time, an American priest wrote to the Vatican to warn them of rumors that the Cardinal was sexually abusing seminarians.

No action was taken for years until, according to the Vatican, under BXVI, McCarrick was quietly advised not to travel or be seen in public and live a discreet life of prayer and penance, to avoid further rumors of his sexual misconduct.

This was a recommendation the Cardinal seemed to ignore, as he continued traveling and appearing in public, even at the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis.

But in June last year, accusations that McCarrick had abused a minor were found credible by an internal church investigation in New York.

Although McCarrick maintained his innocence, he resigned as Cardinal, that is something that has rarely happened in the history of the Catholic church.

Finally, he was brought to trial at the Vatican, at 88-years-old, McCarrick did not attend in person.

(The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report)